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FEATURED CASE

LOS ANGELES JURY AWARDS LIVING CANCER VICTIM
$9.2 MILLION, INCLUDING $6 MILLION IN PUNITIVE DAMAGES


Robert W. Johnson & Associates was retained to provide economic testimony quantifying the present cash value of economic damages and punitive damages.

Location: Los Angeles, California

Case: Larry Stewart v. A.W. Chesterton Company, et al.

Court: Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles - Central District, Case No. BC 384224.

Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Plaintiff’s attorneys Simona Farrise of Farrise Law Firm, Santa Barbara, California and Carolin Shining of Paul and Hanley, Berkeley, California.

Judge:  The Honorable Alan S. Rosenfield.

Case Synopsis: Plaintiff, a hardworking 59-year-old career plumber, husband, father and grandfather, was exposed to defendant Union Carbide Corporation’s asbestos when he worked on various construction projects in the Los Angeles, California area during the 1970s. From 1963 through at least 1985, Union Carbide Corporation mined deadly asbestos from a California ore deposit, processed it into raw asbestos fibers at its King City, California milling operation, and ultimately sold millions of pounds of that raw chrysotile asbestos under the brand name Calidria asbestos.

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Plaintiff and his wife were devastated in December 2007 when they learned that he suffered from mesothelioma, a fatal cancer only caused by asbestos exposure, and doctors told him he had but a very short time to live.

Expert Testimony: First, Mr. Johnson was asked to calculate Mr. Stewart’s economic damages. In calculating the earnings loss, Mr. Johnson reviewed Mr. Stewart’s payroll information and union data as a journeyman foreman and plumber and projected the income loss out to the end of his work-life capacity, age 65. He next projected Social Security and pension income losses to the end of Mr. Stewart’s normal life expectancy. Finally, Mr. Johnson calculated the loss of household services due to Mr. Stewart’s injuries. The total present value of Mr. Stewart’s economic damages was $1,305,366.

Second, Mr. Johnson was then asked to return at a later date to testify as to punitive damages. In this phase, Mr. Johnson’s primary task was to frame, in economic terms, the financial condition of Union Carbide Corporation. The financial condition encompasses the areas of financial health, wealth and economic status. Mr. Johnson reviewed Union Carbide’s financial documents and testified that the firm had $7.5 billion in Sales (approximately $6 million per 8 hours), $1.1 billion in Net Income, $6.1 billion in Net Worth and $3.625 billion in Cash.

Result: On November 18, 2008, the jury of 7 men and 5 women awarded $9,200,000, including $6,000,000 in punitive damages, after a 5 week trial. Defendant Union Carbide Corporation, maker and seller of dangerous chemicals and agents, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Dow Chemical, was found to be at least 85% responsible for plaintiff's cancer. Although Union Carbide Corporation has been held liable in other asbestos cases, the award of punitive damages here is believed to be the very first time the chemical maker has been assessed an amount of punitive damages for an asbestos claim. The case is being appealed by defendant.

Attorney’s Comments: According to Plaintiff’s counsel Carolin Shining, “Mr. Johnson was wonderful in coming down the night before to prepare with us on the punitive damages phase. The judge only gave us a day to prepare for the punitive damages phase. Mr. Johnson went the extra mile in helping us prepare.”